Displaying items by tag: direct indexing
VettaFi announced that it would be acquiring EQM Indexes, a provider of custom thematic indexing specialists. It marks VettaFi’s second acquisition in the space as the indexing and ETF data provider continues increasing the amount and quality of offerings for asset managers. In April, it acquired ROBO Global Index suites.
EQM uses a quantitative approach to construct customized, niche indices for industries like e-commerce, rare earths, block chain technology, etc. Most of its customers are advisors and wealth managers who are based in North America, Europe, or Asia.
Following the completion of the deal, VettaFi will have more than 300 indexes that comprise $19 billion in assets including ETFs and direct indexing products. The firm was founded in 2022 through a merger of various entities in the ETF data and indexing space.
Clearly, the firm believes that direct indexing has more room for growth. According to Brian Coco, VettaFi’s head of Index Products, “A great investment idea can often remain just that: an idea. But with a well-constructed index, great investment ideas can become great investments. Building custom indexes is something at which EQM has long excelled, and we are very excited to add EQM’s expertise to our index offerings.”
Finsum: VettaFi announced the acquisition of EQM Indexes, a provider of custom indexing solutions. It marks a continuation of the firm’s investment in the direct indexing space.
For Vettafi’s ETFTrends, James Comtois discusses some of the key advantages of direct indexing for investors, and why the category is expected to continue growing at a healthy clip over the next decade. In essence, it’s become increasingly evident over the past decade that investing passively and consistently in low-cost, diversified funds is the key to outperformance. Currently, there is $260 billion in assets managed via direct indexing with this figure expected to exceed $500 billion over the next decade.
At the same time, society continues to evolve in a manner that serves consumers with content, products, and services that are customized to their taste. Concurrently, there has been technological innovation in the financial space that has resulted in drastic declines in the cost of stock trading and money management.
Direct indexing is at the intersection of all these trends. It captures the best parts of passive index investing as it recreates an index in an investors’ account with some tweaks if necessary to reflect one’s personal values and beliefs or unique financial situation. It utilizes technological innovations to scan for tax loss harvesting opportunities which then can be used to lower an investors’ tax bill. Due to this factor, direct indexing strategies outperform especially in more volatile environments.
Finsum: Direct indexing is one of the fastest growing areas in wealth management. Here are some factors behind its increasing popularity.
For Vettafi’s ETFTrends, James Comtois shares his thoughts on the major differentiator for direct indexing vs the traditional strategy of investing in index funds. Over the last couple of decades, it’s become accepted wisdom that investing in passive funds is the best path to retirement given their diversification, history of long-term gains, and low costs and fees.
However, there is one drawback to this strategy. Investors are unable to capitalize on tax losses to offset gains to lower their year-end tax bill. Direct indexing addresses this weakness while still retaining the major benefits of passive index investing. In addition, it also enables investors to customize their holdings to reflect their personal values and beliefs.
Still, the key advantage for direct indexing is the boost in returns due to tax-loss harvesting. This can result in additional performance between 1 and 2% and is more potent in years with greater volatility. It can be particularly beneficial for investors who have gains in other parts of their portfolio.
With direct indexing, the portfolio is scanned regularly to sell losing positions. These are replaced with stocks that have similar factor scores to continue tracking the benchmark.
Finsum: Direct indexing has several benefits for investors but its key advantage is that it can help them reduce their tax bills and boost performance in more volatile years.
Direct indexing is gaining adherents at a rapid pace as it proliferates from solely high net worth investors to investors with much smaller sums and is now available through most wealth management platforms. Direct indexing allows investors to capture the benefits of index investing such as low costs and diversification but allows more personalization. Its most well known benefit is that it can help lower taxes due to its unique ability to harvest tax losses which can offset gains in other parts of the portfolio.
Another is that it allows customization of indexes because many investors may want to reduce exposure to a certain stock or sector. This can be because they have substantial exposure to the stock or industry through their other holdings or because of personal preferences.
The latter is a reflection of the rise of values-based investing which is increasingly popular among younger investors. This entails making investments that align with one’s own personal values. For instance, an investor may choose not to include fossil fuel companies in their index because of concerns around the environment. These holdings are then replaced with a different stocks that have similar factor scores.
Prior to direct indexing, investors with strong values would be limited in terms of investment options. Now, they are able to essentially create their own fund that aligns with their values.
Finsum: One of the major benefits of direct indexing is that investors can customize their holdings to align with their personal values.
Until very recently, direct indexing was simply not an option for the vast majority of investors. This is because the strategy is quite tedious to execute and could become cost prohibitive in the previous era when commission-free trading and fractional shares were not available.
This is because the strategy requires creating an actual index within an investors’ portfolio. It’s now feasible and quite easy to do due to technological advances. Additionally, the real alpha in the strategy is created through routine tax loss harvesting.
This is an automated process where the portfolio is regularly scanned to sell off losing positions. Then, these losses can be used to offset capital gains elsewhere in the portfolio. Proceeds from the sold positions are then reinvested into stocks with similar factor scores to the ones that are sold in order to ensure integrity with the underlying index even if the holdings temporarily deviate.
Clearly, this strategy wouldn’t be tenable without cheap and/or free trading and fractional shares for smaller sums. In the previous era, the high volume of trades would offset any additional returns. Without fractional trading, smaller sums also would not be able to track the underlying index and not be able to invest in higher-priced stocks that comprise large portions of indices.
Finsum: Direct indexing’s proliferation is only possible due to 2 specific fintech breakthroughs - commission-free trading and fractional shares.